Dining & Wine

International Women’s Day Profile: Malindi Taylor Of Fanny Bay Oysters

February 27, 2023

To celebrate this International Women’s Day (and really, shouldn’t that simply be everyday?!), we’re profiling some incredible women in the lifestyle space. Meet Malindi Taylor, part owner and marketing/restaurant sales coordinator, Fanny Bay Oysters. —Noa Nichol

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself to start.

I’m a 5th generation shellfish farmer. My family has been growing oysters, clams, and other bivalves in the Salish Sea region since 1890. I grew up on our farms working in all the different areas of our farms. After I graduated from UBC I started working on our Canadian farms and producing content for our online and social media presence. My focus has always been about educating people about shellfish, how we farm them, how great they are for the environment and for your health. I started working on the restaurant and wholesale side of our business in 2016 when we opened the Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market in Vancouver. I’ve been really lucky to meet amazing chefs from across the city and work with them to put our shellfish on their menus, as well as help develop our oyster bar team.

What’s a day in the life like for you?

My duties span a long list of operational tasks for both our Vancouver operations and our Vancouver Island farming/processing operations. So I bounce around a lot, but I start early in the morning usually making sure our shellfish shipments are coming in and being reallocated properly to our customers. I’ll check our media channels and do some posting or content creation. I;ll also filter all of our online contacts and respond to customers looking for everything from fresh shellfish to crushed oyster shells for their chickens! Once orders arrive I’ll quality check the shellfish and reach out to chefs that might be interested in specialty products. I help run logistics for our delivery team, then meet with the oyster bar team to plan what oysters they’ll be using that day. I’ll get projections together for our farm team for what we will need in the upcoming week. Currently we are working through a lot of operational changes on our farms to make farming more efficient and still produce top quality shellfish for our customers.

How does your company empower women?

My generation of family is predominately women. 7 of out of the 8 of us are women, and I think our family has always believed women are just as good at men at any given task. But certainly my generation is taking more and more steps to make our workplace as inclusive as possible. We are seeing more and more women rise into our leadership and upper management teams. We also have begun to add Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshops into our annual manager trainings. One initiative I personally have spear headed was just to simply to get tampons, pads, and nursing pads into our bathrooms because anyone with a uterus shouldn’t have to worry about their period at work! I also co-manage Girls That Shuck, which is basically my cousin Jada and I getting to know women across the industry and telling their stories on our social media page. We also make Girls That Shuck swag that raises funds for different women’s non-profits or charities, like Minorities in Aquaculture and the Battered Womens Support Services. It’s still a new initiative and we are learning a lot each time we interview a new woman, and I feel like that can only help us grow and learn how to continue to empower the women in our own company. 

What are the current challenges for women in your industry? How do you overcome them?

It’s weird how things can change and cycle. When I was growing up the best oyster shuckers and clam diggers in the world were women. My mother’s era seemed to leave the workforce to raise their families leaving this gap that was filled by men. Now it feels like the field is evening out again and we are seeing more women in seafood. There are so many great things starting to come out in our industry to support women and really highlight women in this space, I just think we need to continue those efforts and continue to make these small daily changes in our life that are invisible to some, but life changing to others. Networking and building a strong female presence across the community will only continue to increase the rise of women and women’s issues to the forefront of our industry.

How do you create a supportive environment for yourself and your team?

I’ve learn a lot of what NOT to do over the last 6 or 7 years of my career, and my biggest take away is to take the time to listen and look at every angle you can to make smart and informed choices. No one is going to be great at everything, so learn to ask for help or seek out the right person’s expertise if you need it. Take the time to reset, rest, and respect yourself so you can show that same level of respect to your team. Encourage your teams’ passions and never end the quest for education for yourself and your team.

Who has been your greatest influence/mentor in your life?

My mother and my aunts have always been strong women, putting in the hours on the farm or volunteering in their communities. I’ve always felt very blessed to grow up in a world where I could be whatever I wanted to be and was encouraged to do so. But the biggest influence on me outside of my family has had to be Chef Xinh Dwelley. Of course growing up I just knew her as Xinh (Sin). Xinh came to the US from Vietnam after the Vietnam War, where she had worked in the American army mess halls. She started working shucking oysters and really running the show at our processing plant and retail store. She has this huge, loud and welcoming personality and she was FAST! She quickly became the best oyster shucker in the Pacific Northwest, winning championships with ease. She was also this huge beacon of our community because she would make everyone lunch and bring everyone together around the table. Her calling has always been to make amazing food that makes people happy and brings them together. She ran Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House up until a few years ago, but is currently retired as she has had several battles with cancer that have affected her health. Also I have to give a HUGE shout out to Chef Alex Chen, he has always been there for me and even when he didn’t have advice he has pointed me in the right direction of the best women in the industry to talk too. He connected me to people like Chef Meeru Dhalwala and Caren McSherry who have literally been so kind to just sit with me, listen to me complain or vent and be able to help me channel what it is I need to focus on.

What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing?

Honestly, I’m too busy and have so much I still want to accomplish in my life to stop and pat myself on the back. But all of the congratulations messages from people I know from across the industry after our Oyster Bar was given a Michelin recommendation last fall felt pretty special. It was this really wonderful reflection of all the hard work my team and I have been putting in post-covid to represent ourselves as one of the best in the biz. I truly feel the most accomplished with the small things like when someone takes an interest in shellfish for the first time or chooses to support Girls That Shuck by sporting our swag or simply posts a picture of their meal on social media.



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